Exploring My Teenage Obsession with STAR WARS and Science Fiction 42 years later: My First Novel, JAKE’S WAR: JULY, 4, 2076, is Available on Amazon and Smashwords

JAKE’S WAR JULY 4, 2076 - Digital cover

It was August 1977.

My young imagination was captivated by science fiction books and the film STAR WARS.

I can’t overestimate the impact STAR WARS had on me as a teenager. It wasn’t just a fun space romp to me. It seemed to bring together all the elements I loved about science fiction into one enthralling story.

I was a timid and shy youth who lived a lot through books, mostly science fiction from the great authors such as Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Harlan Ellison, Frank Herbert (Dune), etc. Frankly, there are too many to mention here.

George Lucas’ seminal film changed my life and inspired me so much I began in late summer 1977 my writing journey at the age of 15 with a 60-page hand-written novel I called JAKE’S WAR: JULY 4, 2076. It was the story of Jake Chadwick, a soldier, pilot, and former diplomat, fighting in a war against the Russians and Chinese in the future—at the time of the American Tricentennial. There was also a love story involving Jake and Jill Yamamoto, a former soldier. I also made some interesting predictions at the time in my novel about America electing our first African American president in the year 2000 (I was only eight years off), and our country and the world solving pollution, environmental, and overpopulation problems with new technology (we still have a ways to go, but I hope we can improve our efforts before 2076).

Please see the first page below to get an idea of just how rough this first draft was.

Jake's War page1

Forty-two years later, my first novel is available on Amazon and Smashwords as a digital book and in Amazon paperback.

As with my previous novel ROBOT TROUBLES and short story collection CAR DODGING, which are based on writing from my youth, I updated JAKE’S WAR where it was appropriate, but I wanted to stick as close to the original story as possible. This novel (my 13th book overall) was — as with those earlier books – an attempt to recapture my youthful writing spirit if I could.

JAKE’S WAR JULY 4, 2076 FINAL-JPG-Paperback Cover

Although there is a mention of Jake fighting a war against a moon base rebellion earlier in his military career, all the action remains Earthbound in this story. So, you could say the influence of STAR WARS was in that it inspired me to write my own initial story, but I didn’t attempt to write a similar space epic.

This story is a warning against war and violence—as was my original version. Jake starts the novel working as a junior diplomat for a global diplomatic group trying to stop a pending war between America, its allies, and the Russians and Chinese. Once war is declared, Jake reluctantly joins the war effort. I also expanded the role and description of Jill, who is a former war hero who refuses to join Jake in the war and remains a diplomat, and Jason Kendrick, his African American friend and fellow air force pilot. The character of Sue Myers, a fellow soldier of Jake’s, also plays an expanded role later in this novel. I also added in the updated version of this novel a wry commentary about our current tensions with Russia as viewed from Jake’s perspective many years in the future.

Although I changed a lot of my original novel, I kept my dark, creative original ending. This book concludes as my dreaming fifteen-year-old mind imagined it.

It is beyond satisfying to share my first novel. I am thrilled that JAKE’S WAR: JULY 4, 2076, my initial foray into science fiction writing, is finally out in the world as I dreamed about that summer so long ago.  Enjoy another intriguing journey through my youthful imagination.

GP

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Reviving Dark Tales from my youth with the launch of my first short story collection Car Dodging and Other Stories on Amazon and Smashwords today

CarDodging-digital cover

The influence of short stories on my writing life can’t be overestimated. I was a lonely teen in the mid-1970s when my fascination and love for the short story began. Although it is a literary form that has been pretty much overlooked and forgotten in the modern age (from its heyday in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s when publications were devoted to highlighting the art of the short story), the power of the short story endures for me as inspiring and moving as any novel.

So I am more than thrilled that today my first short story collection CAR DODGING AND OTHER STORIES is available on Amazon and Smashwords as a digital book and as an Amazon paperback.

All the stories in this collection were based on previous works I had written in my teens or for my college English classes at California State University Long Beach. I updated the stories but worked to maintain as much as I could my original, youthful vision I had attempted decades before. BACK OF THE STATION WAGON, the final story in my collection, is the only work in this book not created from a previous story from my youth. However, it was inspired by a racist incident during my childhood.

The writers that first beguiled me with their stunning short story talents were the science fiction writers Richard Matheson, Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, and Isaac Asimov, among many others. They told intriguing tales of new worlds and future possibilities, but always illuminated the foibles and darkness of human nature through their powerful stories, told with such brevity and economy. The length of the stories was hardly the point, as their imaginations were unlimited.

Later, in high school and college, I was introduced a wider range of writers, who also explored and enhanced the short story form, such as Shirley Jackson (The Lottery), Willa Cather (Paul’s Case), Dorothy Parker (Big Blonde), John Updike, John Cheever, James Joyce, James Baldwin, Richard Wright, Ernest Hemmingway (Men Without Women), John Steinbeck, Anton Chekov (The Lady With The Dog), Charles Bukowski, Flannery O’Connor, Joyce Carol Oates, O. Henry, and many others. In fact, there are truly too many to mention here. I still feel the impact of their words and stories on me today.

As you could imagine, with such brilliant examples and teachers, I was daunted initially to take a stab at writing my own short stories. Despite some first attempts, many of which are in this book in expanded form, my first actual completed short story was TROUBLES I had written at 17. It was a simple story of a robot who works on an assembly line in the future, has an awakening and leaves the factory on an adventure. I expanded this story into the novella ROBOT TROUBLES, which I recently published. I have included my original short story in this collection as well. In 1980, I sent my short story to my writing hero Isaac Asimov’s science fiction magazine and received my first rejection letter. I have detailed that story in the introduction of ROBOT TROUBLES and won’t do that again here. Suffice to say, I was originally crushed by the rejection, but I continued to write short stories.

I have provided detailed introductions before each story in my collection detailing the origin and inspiration of each story. I won’t do that here either.

Car Dodging and Other Stories paperbackcover

Yet I will provide a quick overview. CAR DODGING focuses on a childhood game that turns deadly; the aforementioned TROUBLES is about a robot assembly line worker’s awakening in a dark future; JACK is a story about a robot boxing trainer and the fighter he helps turn into a heavyweight champion; THE NEIGHBOR is about a man finding out his neighbor is from another world; THE ELDERS imagines a space traveler who sleeps for 210 years and finds himself on a new world many lightyears from Earth; BROKEN BARRIERS is a love story across different worlds and civilizations; A DEADLY SPACE focuses on a space shuttle pilot being held hostage by two Russian killer satellites; THE HELLHOLE, PART 1, THE FIRST FIGHT, A BATTLE OF WIZARDS: ANDOLEN’S ARENA SHOWDOWN, THE ADVENTURES OF THE MAGIC SWORD, JONAH’S VICTORY and A SWORD’S EDGE are all fantasy, sword and sorcery stories inspired by my love of the LORD OF THE RINGS and other fantasy books in my youth; THE JOB is about a policeman’s dissatisfaction with his job in the future; ANOTHER CHANCE focuses on a veteran car racer’s comeback journey culminating with a race on the planet Mars; MAKING ORANGE JUICE and A CONVERSATION WITH MOTHER were scene exercises for my college class that I have updated as short stories; STEPS TO NOWHERE was expanded from the A CONVERSATION WITH MOTHER scene into a larger story that explores a young teenager’s growing awkwardness with his mother following his father’s death; THE GARDENER is about a former blues singer who works in a dead-end job as a gardener at a university and reflects on his life; SIDE OF THE ROAD focuses on a man parked on the side of a freeway lamenting his failing marriage, and the previously mentioned BACK OF THE STATION WAGON is based on a racist incident during my youth.

Please note that after much internal debate, I decided to include the racist and offensive language in the story BACK OF THE STATION WAGON as the story is about how silence in the face of racism perpetuates it and that racism exists everywhere,  including behind the ugly facade of a so-called neighborhood hero.

The team at Word to Kindle created another impressive cover as well for my digital and paperback version that reflects my title and also my stories’ content. They also created the excellent covers for my previous science fiction novel ROBOT TROUBLES and poetry collection BODY PARTS.

Through looking back at my writing past and reviving these stories, I feel I have recaptured my joy of writing and overcome the fear that used to haunt me as a young, naïve writer. This book has taken a more than 40-year journey to publication.  As I have been reminded many times in the past few years, it is never too late to chase your writing dreams.

I hope you enjoy these stories as much as I enjoyed writing them.

Look for more books later this year, including an updated version of the first novel I had hand-written at 15, and another poetry book based on my lyrics.

GP

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2018: Another remarkable year of Indie Publishing with Return to My Science Fiction Roots

Robot_ebookcover

In my writing journey, 2018 may go down as the most pivotal yet in determining my future direction as an author.

It was another remarkable year of indie publishing for me highlighted by the launch of my first science fiction novella ROBOT TROUBLES in digital and paperback versions 38 years after I drafted the short story it was based on as a naive and mid-18-year-old. My book came out better than expected and inspired me to revive other writing from my youth that I will share in 2019, including my first short story collection, and another science fiction novella based on the first novel I had hand-written at 15. I can’t wait to publish them next year.

I truly feel I have returned to my writing roots and my first love of science fiction with the launch of ROBOT TROUBLES and my upcoming works. I have never felt as excited and as confident as a writer. As I have mentioned in previous posts, indie publishing brings me a freedom I have never had as an author. The sky is the limit for me now.

Mimi'sDilemma-cover Final

This year, I also brought two more poetry collections, MIMI’S DILEMMA and BODY PARTS, which is the second collection based on my song lyrics. I plan one more poetry collection based on my lyrics next year and possibly two more poetry collections tackling life during the Trump years and the downside of work life in the world of public relations.

BODY PARTS-digitalcover-FINAL

Just recently, I updated my upcoming books list for the next 5-10 years. I have scheduled 23-24 books over the next six years and I am shooting for launching 35 books overall in the next decade. I know it seems very ambitious, but I am determined to do it. Only time can stop me know.

I want to wish all of my fellow authors, poets, creative souls on Twitter and beyond a happy new year.

Check out my Amazon author site for more information about my recent books. Look here soon for more news about my upcoming books.

GP